Album: Loose Ends – EP
No one’s mood and demeanor is inflexible. People are intrinsically subject to whims and emotions—there are good days, and there are bad days, and there exists an entire spectrum of shades that exist between the two ends of the range. As such, ones demeanor reflects back to their personality—on good days, one may be more talkative, open and energetic. On bad days, they may be more reclusive, quieter or even angry and bitter. Then, there are the days lurking in the in between—neither good nor bad, just simply there.
Music is much the same way—there are a variety of good, great, bad and worse artists, and then there exists the grey area in between—which is where we find Jacksonville, Florida quartet Personalities. Neither remarkable nor remarkably bad, the group’s latest EP, Loose Ends, sounds oddly similar to its namesake: a haphazard collection of okay songs thrown together into a thoroughly mediocre album. With sparse moments of stand-out aggression or catchiness and a bulk of the EP a dismal, dull and recycled shade of nu-metal infused metalcore.
It may as well be address at the onset of the article, because I’m going to repeat it several times: Loose Ends, and by extension, Personalities as an act isn’t bad, it’s just boring. 98 percent of the time, the album is thoroughly predictable, sounding akin to a collection of B-Sides from Sworn In or The Plot in You records that got subsequently watered down and reassembled on this release. This as true of the instrumentation as anything: decently bouncy drumming with bright cymbals and a sharp, snappy snare serve as the release’s foundation—with percussionist Joey Register proving he is more than adept at playing. Songs like “Stay Clean” or “A Grave for Two” see his drumming at its relative peak—with the latter featuring a couple exceptionally strong grooves that stay stuck in the listener’s head. Register is aided by bassist Troy Cooley, who, for lack of a better way to phrase it, does exactly what one would expect from a bassist in a metalcore band. Adding some chunky weight to the breakdowns in “Tiny Tim,” and providing a rumbling firmament for the more ethereal aspects of “Stay Clean” and “Loose Ends,” Cooley dwells in the backgrounds, letting guitarist Jeffrey Carter do most of the work. Carter crafts segments of sinister, eerie atmosphere (“Tiny Tim,”) and some dizzying, dancy riffs (“Tiny Tim” and “A Letter of Departure” especially), but nothing he brings to the table is something that hasn’t been, honestly, done to death. Songs like the promising intro, “A Grave for Two,” or the end of “Tiny Tim” stand out more so than other aspects of the album, but not that much more—not enough to last more than one or two listens through, which is par for Loose Ends’ course.
With a trend of mediocrity and decentness established by Personalities’ standard-fare nu-metalcore instrumentation, the band’s vocals follow suit. Frontman Trevor Rankin is diverse, at least, but in ways that, simply put, the listener has heard done better elsewhere. The through-gritted-teeth talking in “Tiny Tim” is cool, but definitely similar to heavier tracks from Happiness in Self-Destruction, a trend that reappears in “A Letter of Departure” and the EP’s title track. Then, there are Rankin’s cleanly sung segments which range from good (“Tiny Tim”) to okay (parts of “You Were Right”) to downright cringey (the rest of “You Were Right.”) Rankin is simply strongest when he isn’t overtly channeling his contemporaries—his visceral bellows on “A Grave for Two,” for example—and let’s his lyrics do the talking; for if Rankin has one true strong suit, it is his ability to write excellent, emotional and introspective lyrics that creatively capture whatever concept he sets his sights to—it’s simply his execution that leaves the listener feeling like they’ve heard it somewhere else, or, in some cases, many places else.
Loose Ends is a fun one-off listen, but with a dynamic that makes the band, at best, sound like every other metalcore upstart in the past two years, and at worst sound like a third-string The Plot in Sworn In mashup, “fun” gets them about as far as the word is long. There are several bits of promise scattered throughout the EP—especially in the first two tracks and single “Tiny Tim,” which hopefully hints that in their next release cycle, Personalities might be band comprised of more tightly knit songwriting and fewer Loose Ends.
For Fans Of: The Plot In You, Sworn In, Barrier, VCTMS, Lordis
By: Connor Welsh